ST. PAUL -- A tweetstorm broke out Tuesday over an email Minnesota United sent its part-time employees at Allianz Field.
“Sad to report @MNUFC has the WORST response to the COVID-19 crisis in MLS,” read a tweet from the Red Loons supporters group which incorporates advocacy for worker and labor issues.
The Red Loons’ tweet had a screenshot of an email sent from a United senior director, which encouraged recipients to file for unemployment compensation as Loons games have been shuttered to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. The email also shared hyperlinks to let part-time employees know the club’s partners — Target, Cub and Pepsi — are hiring temporary workers.
Minnesota United told the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Wednesday, March 25, this email was plucked out of a series of four or five that intended to inform and communicate with a subset of about 100 workers — mostly ticket-takers and ushers who work only a few hours at each Loons home game at the St. Paul stadium. These emails did not go to contracted stadium workers in food, janitorial and security services nor full-time employees, who are working from home during the health crisis.
Handfuls of online reviews of this email saw it as crass given the Loons’ ownership group, which includes Bill McGuire, Glen Taylor and the Pohlads among a dozen other Minnesota-based families, has not yet pledged to compensate part-time workers during its suspended season.
The Twins, Timberwolves and Wild have made pledges to pay part-time employees, but United, one of 26 clubs in MLS, does not have the larger revenue streams seen in the four major U.S. sports.
Nearly two weeks ago, Atlanta United and Orlando City were the first two MLS clubs to announce plans to pay hourly workers for postponed games, but that has been far from a blanket initiative for MLS clubs.
Much of this situation is still to be determined. MLS is now exploring ways to still play each club’s 32 remaining regular-season games. Two games in, the season was suspended on March 12, three days before the Loons’ home opener, and last week MLS set a tentative restart date of May 10.
If United’s full schedule is played out, these affected part-time employees would have all their scheduled work occur with United, and therefore paychecks would come later on this summer and fall.
United has 17 scheduled MLS regular-season home games this season. The club’s participation in ancillary tournaments and at least one friendly match is now uncertain.
The Loons were scheduled to play in the U.S. Open Cup and the Leagues Cup with Mexico’s Liga MX this summer. They also had a exhibition scheduled against FC Augsburg of the German Bundesliga on May 27 in St. Paul.
MLS extended its training moratorium until at least April 3, the league announced Wednesday. The start date has been extended a few times as social distancing has been implemented to combat the pandemic.